Kids’ Corner: Wild for Wildflowers

Elizabeth Kubey Photo: Jisoo Kim


Spring is here, and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the wildflowers. Your native plant “homework” this season is to plan a hike with your family or visit a nearby garden. Need ideas? Go to your local CNPS chapter’s website ( to find recommended hikes and native garden tours. Once you’re at your destination, try these activities to observe the variety of shapes and colors in flowers that help attract insects to pollinate them.

Share your plant photos and drawings on social media—tag @californianativeplantsociety. Or send photos to Elizabeth at

Zoom In, Zoom Out

Best for ages 8+ 30 minutes Notebook Drawing supplies
Let’s observe a flower from three scales: life-size, magnified, and from a distance. Notice how features move into and out of focus at each point. We can easily miss important characteristics by getting stuck at one level of focus in our observations and drawings. First, a little exercise:

  • Stand far enough away from the flower so you can see it in its habitat. What do you notice?
  • Next, walk up close to the flower. What do you notice close up? Did your observations change at different distances?
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) Drawing: John Muir Laws

Journal your observations through writing and drawing.
Draw a life-size view of your flower. If the plant is bigger than your paper, draw your favorite part. Then choose an interesting detail to show zoomed in. At the side of the paper, draw a magnified view showing features that are too small to be shown in the life-size image. Finally, take a few steps back from the plant and make a final sketch, this time zoomed out to take in the whole plant, and some of its environment. Remember, you can observe all plants from these three levels of focus!


Marielle taking a selfie with wildflowers Photo: Ramiel Flores
Scarlet monkey flower (Erythranthe cardinalis) timeline drawing Drawing: John Muir Laws

Plant Timeline

Best for ages 8+ 30 minutes Notebook Drawing supplies
Now that you can notice differences in flowers at three scales, use those skills to document one flower species at different stages of growth. Try to find an area with lots of flowers of the same species.

  • Identify one flower that you think is at the peak of its bloom.
  • Make a careful diagram or sketch of that flower in the middle of your page.
  • Next, find a flower that is a little further developed or older than the one you sketched. Draw it to the right of your first flower.

Then find one that is a little less open and draw it to the left of your flower.Continue like this, adding flowers on either side and see if you can find ones that are still in bud or perhaps even producing a fruit. See if you can find the youngest and oldest stages. If you have access to see the flower over weeks, you can make a timeline for that individual.

Can you find the oldest and youngest flowers in these photos?

Special Thanks to John Muir Laws
These beautiful illustrations and activities are adapted from Opening the World through Nature Journaling: Integrating Art, Science, and Language Arts by John Muir Laws, Emilie Lygren, Emily Breunig, and Celeste Lopez. To purchase a copy, please go to Visit to learn more about John Muir Laws and his work. 



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